At 23, Rob Hill noticed something wasn’t right when he experienced excruciating abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. For a young man who rarely even went to the doctor or had a GP, this was definitely not the norm.
Soon after, Rob was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic autoimmune disorder with no known cure that affects the digestive tract. His body essentially attacked itself, triggering intense inflammation in his digestive organs, particularly his intestine. The disease ate at him until he dwindled down to an emaciated 105 pounds (losing 80 pounds in total). In Rob’s weakened state, he was unable to participate in any daily activities, let alone the sport he loved above all else: climbing.
Though he regained most of his strength physically after his surgery, Rob didn’t realize what carrying around an ostomy bag would mean mentally. This didn’t stop him from climbing the Seven Summits, which are the highest peaks on seven continents. Unfortunately, during his summit of Aconcagua in Argentina, something went wrong—Rob contracted a kidney infection and needed to be air-lifted to the nearest hospital. He recovered from his infection and continued on to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, finishing off Aconcagua the year after.
When people are struggling with a disease or pain, it becomes the common bond that can transcend even language. Rob showed people what could be done, regardless of the struggle they have. He finished climbing the seven peaks—all with his ostomy bag hanging from his side. Today, he is the founder of IDEAS (Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society), bringing a voice for people who struggle with Crohn’s Disease on a daily basis.
Interesting Vancouver Presents is a podcast series hosted by David Swanson featuring conversations with ordinary Vancouverites leading extraordinary lives. The series features past, present and future Interesting Vancouver speakers and members of the IV community. You can follow IV and listen to episodes on Soundcloud, find them on your favourite Podcast app, or download for offline listening. Check in often for new episodes and be sure to follow the conversation on Twitter with #IVPresents.
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